ROSSETTI, Dante Gabriel (1828-1882). Poems. London: F.S. Ellis, 1870.
8° (220 x 235mm). Original green morocco, with gilt floral mosaic designs after Rossetti stamped on covers and spine, some leaves uncut (front cover and spine detached), morocco-backed green cloth slipcase. With autograph letter signed ('D.G. Rossetti') to F.S. Ellis, n.p., n.d. ('Wed[nesda]y night'), one page, 8°, tipped in; newspaper clipping inserted. Provenance: presentation copy from William Michael Rossetti to Hannah Jane Lampson, later Hannah Jane Locker (inscribed on front end-leaf by William M. Rossetti 'Hannah Jane Lampson with all good wishes from W.m M. Rossetti;' signature beneath of 'Lucy M. Rossetti June 1874;' bookplate). Purchased from Parke-Bernet, New York, 2 October 1944, $70. With an autograph letter signed ('W.M. Rossetti') to Frederick Locker, Somerset House, 22 June [1870?], 3 pages, 8°, tipped in on back end-leaf; photograph of D.G. Rossetti pasted to verso of front cover; one-page autograph verse manuscript by D.G. Rossetti, 4to, first line 'The window thou, a youth, hast sought,' also tipped in.
FIRST EDITION, ONE OF 25 COPIES PRINTED ON LARGE PAPER, PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR'S BROTHER, WITH AN AUTOGRAPH VERSE MANUSCRIPT BY ROSSETTI. This was Rossetti's first major appearance as a poet in his own right. It was made possible by the exhumation of his manuscripts from his wife, Lizzie Siddal's coffin, an affair handled by Charles Augustus Howell. The volume contains fifty sonnets for the proposed 'House of Life' sequence, including 'Nuptial Sleep,' the poem which figured so largely in the 'Fleshly School' controversy and was eventually suppressed in the 1881 edition. The autograph manuscript by Rossetti comprises three stanzas of six lines each, with corrections displayed in two lines. It constitutes part of the poem 'Dante of Verona,' the corrected version of which appears on page 94 of this volume. Rossetti's letter to his publisher F.S. Ellis gives the full address of Sir Sidney Colvin, with instructions that he be put in the list of 'those who should receive completed sets now.' Colvin, a young Cambridge don, had been introduced into Rossetti's circle by Edward Jones. In his essay Famous Voices I Have Heard, Colvin declared of his friend Rossetti that 'in reading or recitation, and not to a much less extent in daily talk, he was the greatest magician of them all. [He] had a profound effect in stirring the senses and souls of his hearers.' Rossetti refers to this copy of the Poems in a letter to Frederick Locker, in which he explains that he is sending a present in 'the form of some literary performance done by our family, and inscribed with the name of Miss. Lampson,' emphasizing that it is 'almost' the only copy of the large paper issue 'distinguished by being bound in that same design, my brother's own, wh[ich] appears on the ordinary cloth-covered copies. Other large-paper specimens are only in sheets, or else in boards.' He also encloses 'a photograph of my brother and a specimen of his writing,' which consists of 'certain stanzas of the poem, Dante in Verona, which forms one of the contents of the volume.' Fennell, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, p. 9.